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Loma Linda Meets McDonald’s

The New York Times covers the controversy about allowing McDonald’s into Loma Linda, California.

Wayne Dysinger, a physician and public health professor in the preventive medicine department at Loma Linda University’s School of Medicine, grew up in the city and remembers a time when there were no such restaurants. A generation ago, it was nearly impossible to even find meat within city limits. Now, he worries about his children.


“We know from research that if a school is near a fast-food restaurant, the kids there are more likely to be obese,” he said. “We will never eliminate unhealthy choices, and pretty much everyone has an unhealthy treat once in a while. I am going to drive by that intersection every day and it’s fairly likely that they will say ‘Oh Daddy, can we stop there’ more often. Why do we need to encourage that?”


The new McDonald’s restaurant would hardly be the first fast-food joint around — there are already a handful of places offering assembly-line burgers and fries within the eight square miles of the city. And the area has deep roots to the icon that so many residents detest: the site of the original McDonald’s restaurant is less than five miles away, in San Bernardino.


Still, in one sign of Loma Linda’s historical distaste for fast food, restaurants are required to go through a special approval process for drive-through windows. Once, when business proved slightly sluggish, a local chain crafted a special vegetarian menu dubbed “Loma Linda specials.”


A generation ago, nearly 80 percent of the city was Seventh-day Adventist; by most estimates, Adventists now make up about half of the city’s population of 23,000. But the influence of the religion on the town remains clear. Many businesses shut down early on Friday, in observance of Saturday as the Sabbath. One of the largest supermarkets in town is owned by the church-run university, and there are no meat products to be found. (Canned soy alternatives are available in abundance, including some under a Loma Linda brand.) Only large businesses and restaurants are authorized to sell alcohol, and there is a total ban on smoking.

Fast-Food Outlet Stirs Concerns in a Mecca of Healthy Living

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